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A Bankruptcy Creditors’ Meeting  in personal bankruptcies is extremely rare. Most people, filing bankruptcy, should not be concerned. However, if you are called to one, discuss it with your trustee as they’ll be able to advise you as to why one has been called as well as inform you of the process of what to expect and what to bring.

If a bankruptcy creditors’ meeting is called you must attend, since it is one of your duties under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Bankruptcy creditors’ meetings are more common, when big corporations file bankruptcy, or the individual has a great many large debts.

Most personal bankruptcies filed in Canada are under what’s known as a summary administration, which means it’s a more streamlined and simpler version of an ordinary bankruptcy. Therefore, the requirement to have a meeting of creditors is usually not required. Summary bankruptcies are filed when it’s expected that there will be less than $15,000 available to divide among your creditors.

In a summary administration bankruptcy a bankruptcy creditors’ meeting  could happen if either:

• Creditors holding more than 25% of your debt request one; or
• The Office of Superintendent of Bankruptcy requests one.

The main purpose of a creditors meeting is to allow the creditors an opportunity to review a bankrupt’s situation and ask questions about the bankrupt’s finances and causes of financial difficulty.  It also allows the creditors a chance to give information to the trustee handling the bankruptcy on how they’d like certain assets to be disposed of.

If a bankruptcy creditors’ meeting is called, it would usually be because there may be a very specific issue or concerns that needs to be addressed. For example, the bankrupt may own some property that needs to be sold or disposed and there could be legal or environmental issues that need to be addressed.

The questions asked in a bankruptcy creditors’ meeting must relate to the bankrupt’s finances either, past, present or future. If a question has no relevance to a financial matter the bankrupt is allowed to refuse to answer the question.

You also have the right to have your own legal counsel present at the bankruptcy creditors’ meeting. The trustee is not your lawyer and is not there to represent you, so if you have to attend a creditors meeting and are concerned, you’ll need to consider seeking your own outside legal advice.

The best way to conduct yourself at the creditors’ meeting is by co-operating and honestly answering the creditor’s questions. This may avoid any potential complications further into the bankruptcy. For example, you cannot be automatically discharged from bankruptcy if you do not attend the meeting. A creditor may exercise the right to oppose your discharge from bankruptcy, if they have reason to believe a matter warrants further investigation in court, or if they feel you’ve not answered questions truthfully.

Remember that creditors’ meetings in personal bankruptcies are extremely rare so most people filing bankruptcy should not be concerned. If a meeting is called, discuss it with your trustee as they’d be able to advise you as to why one has been called as well as inform you of the process of what to expect and what to bring.